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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

iMate/IC-7000

Alan Applegate (K0BG) on June 26, 2008
View comments about this article!

Icom IC-7000 and the BetterRF iMate

I'm always looking for ways to make my mobile operation safer, and less distracting. The BetterRF Company answered one of my prayers when they introduce their 7000 Tune Control, and its companion Screwdriver Controller. The combination automates the retuning of any motor driven, remotely controlled HF mobile antenna. The best part is, it uses existing controls on the IC-7000. All that's necessary to QSY, is to use the microphone to select the band, push the Tune/Call button (also on the microphone), and the controller does the rest.

\

They also make the iMate. It acts like an external keyboard (see page 135 in the IC-7000 Instruction Manual) accessing the four built-in memory locations for CW (IC-746 Pro), and the CW and voice locations on the IC-756 Pro II, through the IC-7800. Since the IC-7000 has virtually the same data format the base radios have, I reasoned that it should work just as well with an IC-7000. It does work, but there are a few minor stumbling blocks in the way.

Before I go further, let me say this; the following modifications will void the user warranty. However, the device itself is very simple in construction, and short of running over it, there isn't much that can go wrong, with or without the modification. This said, here's what you have to do to make the iMate work with the IC-7000.

First, the IC-7000 uses a modular connector for it microphone connection, and the iMate comes supplied with standard Icom 8 pin, round connectors. So, I ordered an Icom OPC-589 interface cable, which converts the modular over to a standard round one.

\

Since I wanted to continue using the stock HM-151 microphone, I made an adapter to convert the round jack of the iMate, to a modular one (see photo) needed for the HM-151. All you need is a standard 8 pin microphone plug, an 8 pin modular jack (I used a Keystone style, punch-down), and a short length of shielded 8 wire cable. It took about 30 minutes of bench time to make. Just make sure you check for shorts and continuity.

If you're using the IC-7000 as a base radio, you could use an HM-36 or HM-103 hand microphone, or an SM-20 base microphone, and you won't need the adapter. Or....

One neat feature of the iMate; it supports two microphones. The jack for the second microphone is 3.5 mm, just like most of the Heil headsets use. In fact, a lot of PC headsets use them too. And when you're mobile, a headset can be a wife-saver if local laws allow.

The next step was to set the appropriate menu settings. You do this by going to the Set Mode, turning on item 45 (external keyboard), and items 46 and/or 47 for CW and/or voice memory access.

Once everything got plugged in, and turned on, the iMate came to life. Well, sort of. Memory locations one and two didn't work reliably. Knowing that the external keyboard is readout in the IC-7000 by using a comparator, and the fact I have my IC-7000 remoted (with the longer cable), I reasoned there might be enough additional resistance in the cable to cause a misreading. When I tried plugging the iMate in the chassis mounted microphone connector, it worked just like it should. This fact drove me to start looking a little deeper into the problem.

It turns out that Icom chose to interface the external keyboard differently on the IC-7000, than the aforementioned models. On the base radios, the ground side of an external keyboard needs to be connected to the microphone ground, and on the IC-7000 it's the PTT (chassis) ground. Digging even deeper, I discovered that the microphone ground is connected to chassis ground (inside the main body) by R2202; a zero ohm resistor. A jumper in other words (it pays to have a Service Manual replete with schematics!). However, you just can't connect the two grounds together inside the iMate or the OPC-589, as this will create a lot of hum. The only (correct) solution is to slightly modify the iMate.

\

If you look closely, you'll see where I cut the ground trace for the memory push buttons; it's just left of the loop in the added white wire. The other end of the white wire is connected to the blue (dongle) wire which is chassis ground. This simple modification allows all four memory locations to work perfectly, whether the iMate is plugged into the remote head mic jack, or the chassis mic jack.

Also note the 27k ohm resistor bridged across the 100k ohm resistor. This boosts the gain of the iMate's built-in audio pulser (used for tuning power amplifiers) to that required by the IC-7000. The pulser really isn't needed during mobile operation, but is handy if the IC-7000 is used as a base radio.

I can't say how many folks would use an iMate/IC-7000 mobile (or on a base setup), but I have to tell you this. With the four voice memory channels preprogrammed, I can call CQ, give my call, wait for a reply, and even give a run down of my equipment with just the push of a button. There is a total of 90 seconds of record time split between the four voice channels, but when you're mobile, this is almost an epic length of time.

So is it me, or memory X (1, 2, 3, or 4)? You can't tell, and I never will!

Alan Applegate, KBG
www.k0bg.com

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
iMate/IC-7000  
by AK2B on June 26, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
"I can call CQ, give my call, wait for a reply, and even give a run down of my equipment with just the push of a button."

"can it core a apple?" Edward Lilywhite Norton
 
A slick advertisement  
by AI2IA on June 26, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
It's a mighty slick advertisement, granted.

My view on it all is this:
If you want to practice HF mobile operaton safely and effectively, find a suitable location, pull off the road and operate HF. You will then have zero distractions. You will also save a few bucks otherwise spent on an unnecessary gadget.
 
iMate/IC-7000  
by AI4EP on June 26, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Just use an aftermarket external speaker for your hf rig in your vehicle...dont try to use all 4 or 6 or 8 of the car stereo speakers for hf frequencies...it wont sound THAT great and you may waste your time.

Just keep it simple and operate safely while in your vehicle...dont be like those ol' cell phone drivers ( all over the road ).

Remember also that when you are driving and holding a microphone...those other drivers wont know you are talking dx to Alaska or the Bahamas, they will just think you are some crazy cb operator, anatennas and all. Dont encourage road rage.
 
iMate/IC-7000  
by K2ID on June 26, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I am interested to find out why this was better for you than just using the menu buttons on the remote head of the 7000 that do the same thing. In my setup, the remote head is within easy reach and I just press the buttons on it to send out my memory contents. Is your remote head out of easy reach?
 
RE: iMate/IC-7000  
by WD9FUM on June 26, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
"Ohhh, it can core a apple."

Ralph Kramden
 
iMate/IC-7000  
by N9ESH on June 26, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Why does one need ALL the HF bands to operate mobile? If we must yack so much, can't we concentrate on one band? It would be much simpler and cheaper.
 
RE: iMate/IC-7000  
by N4CQR on June 27, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I could not agree more.

And, it gives you a chance to tell the other person about some of the interesting things around where ever you are. Mountians, buildings etc. (as opposed to discussing which web page you are looking at.)

Qoute: "If you want to practice HF mobile operaton safely and effectively, find a suitable location, pull off the road and operate HF. You will then have zero distractions."
 
RE: A slick advertisement  
by WN9DDV on June 27, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I don't want to pull off the road. The reason that I am operation mobile is to use the radio while I am driving to be entertainment on an otherwise boring trip.
 
RE: iMate/IC-7000  
by WN9DDV on June 27, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
My main distraction is looking at the radio in the other seat. Why did the car manufacturers do away with the space under the dash and filled it with plastic?
 
RE: iMate/IC-7000  
by WN9DDV on June 27, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Probably more social engineering of the nanny state.
 
Ever see a dead motorist?  
by AI2IA on June 27, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
"I don't want to pull off the road. The reason that I am operation mobile is to use the radio while I am driving to be entertainment on an otherwise boring trip."

"Entertainment," eh?

Have you ever seen a freshly dead motorist? I have. It was heart breaking. Entertainment? Hardly. Ever hear of task orientation?

When you work on nuclear equipment, you practice task orientation - one task at a time! If your task is to remove twenty-one bolts from a re-entry vehicle, you concentrate on just those bolts, one at a time, not on the physical attributes of your girlfriend. Is your life less important to you than a nuclear weapon?

Is your life or a lawsuit resulting from the loss of someone else's life worth a few moments of HF entertainment to you? Think about it. VHF/UHF repeater talk is difficult enough on the road, but HF? Better pick a good spot and pull off, then have some entertainment. Your family may never have to thank you for using such good sense. Be smart. Be safe. I intend the best for you.
 
RE: Ever see a dead motorist?  
by N5DXL on June 27, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I stand behide Alan 100% on mobile HF. I all so use a
IC-7000 but with a turbo tuner, HS-1800 and one much
added item "Bluetooth". That's right boy's and girls
I have my IC-7000 linked up to do Bluetooth. I use a
boom mic headset (BlueEagle) and it works very nice.
Safe, easy and 100% hands free.
Alan if you want more info email me.

73,
Tom - N5DXL
Mobile 18 wheeler running HF
 
RE: iMate/IC-7000  
by WV4L on June 27, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Quote "Just keep it simple and operate safely while in your vehicle...dont be like those ol' cell phone drivers ( all over the road )."

Robert,
I concur. The controller described in the article helps to simplify mobile ops. We multi-task on a daily basis and do so while driving as well. In proper perspective, I'm not doing work on a nuke or brain surgery while driving. I'm also capable to do the multi-tasking necessary to drive a vehicle and operate my rig safely. The rigs available today are set up so that one can preset those things you need to keep pushing buttons and turning knobs to a bare minimum. Thus, using a little common sense and making the task of driving a priority, one can still complete appropriate secondary tasks safely. If I couldn't do that I wouldn't have installed a rig in my vehicle in the first place.

Alan,
Thanks for the informative article.
 
Misplaced selfconfidence  
by AI2IA on June 27, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
"I'm also capable to do the multi-tasking necessary to drive a vehicle and ...."

There isn't a single drunken driver who did not say to himself the very same words as he turned the ignition key.

You can do it. Go ahead, you can do it. How many times have you already done it and nothing bad has happened! You can do it. Go ahead.

Many will not take heed, but the wise will take heed. Enjoy HF mobile. Pull off the road in the best location you can find, and enjoy HF mobile safely.

The wise will understand.
 
RE: Misplaced selfconfidence  
by K7LRB on June 27, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I guess this would not be a good time to mention my 40+ years of accident/incident free mobile CW!

If you can't walk and chew gum at the same time I suggest you don't do it.

73,
de Larry
 
RE: iMate/IC-7000  
by KI6JUU on June 27, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
If all these distracted drivers were only involved in single vehicle accidents, then I would say: "No Problem"...Unfortunately we have to share the roads with you, and I don't appreciate having my family's lives endangered by people seeking a diversion from their boring trip.
 
RE: iMate/IC-7000  
by K7LRB on June 27, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Did I mention accident/incident free?

73,
de Larry
 
RE: Misplaced selfconfidence  
by W3LK on June 28, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
<< There isn't a single drunken driver who did not say to himself the very same words as he turned the ignition key. >>

You put mobiling hams in the same category as drunk drivers? That's the dumbest thing you have posted yet.

I love you people who presume to tell others how they should drive, enjoy amateur radio and all the rest. Keep it in your own household; I don't need you to control my life.

Until last year, when I retired, I drove 30-35 thousand miles a year for 40+ years without a chargeable accident. The one accident I was involved in was cause by someone who ran a red light and hit me. I've had radios of one kind or another, sometimes multiple radios, in my vehicles during that time and never felt the need to pull over to talk. There are times, such as in tight traffic, that I stay off the radio, but on the open road I talk on the radio as I feel like it.

BTW, the last stats I saw put talking on a cell phone or radio as the cause of an accident far down on the list, below such things as shaving, lighting cigarettes, changing CDs, TALKING TO A PASSENGER, Putting on makup, eating ... You get the point? But then again, probably not.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut
 
Food for thought  
by AI2IA on June 28, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Please understand, my suggestions are not intended to "control" you. They are intended to give you something to consider seriously.

I am convinced that if any reasonable person had seen a dead motorist up close and in person while on the road, such a person would exclude the notion of entertainment from their driving habits. I have VHF and UHF tranceivers in my car. They remain off when the car is moving on the road, so does the AM/FM receiver and the CD player. I don't expect everyone to do that, but I strongly suggest it.

I think that all traffic safety suggestions can be summed up in two little, powerful words: STAY ALERT!

Your auto safe driving record, good or bad, means nothing at all the next time you get behind the wheel and turn that ignition key. As the investment folks say, "Past performance is no guarantee of future results." Choose one: Drive and stay fully alert and undistracted, or pull off the road at the best possible location and enjoy good HF operation.

If you disagree with that, I respect your right to do what is lawful, but if you choose that, don't accuse me of trying to "control" you or limit your freedom. Just state your good reasons for driving with entertainment. My intention is not to start a verbal war or to restrict your freedom, but simply to state my viewpoint based on the memory of that unfortunate dead motorist's face.
 
RE: Misplaced selfconfidence  
by WV4L on June 28, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks Lon!



Well said.

Wayne C.
WV4L
 
iMate/IC-7000  
by W5AOX on June 28, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Some of the wet-blanket types may have missed the idea that articles by K0BG are mobile radio oriented.
Those of us who normally keep up with Alan's postings are largely in FAVOR of operating a radio while mobile, not turning it off and covering it up with a blanket so it "doesn't distract us".
I dare submit that operating a ham radio while in motion INCREASES the driver's alertness and REDUCES his driver fatigue and boredom, thus increasing his safety factor while driving. Almost every day I talk to other drivers while we all whiz down the highway, and I continually hear (and say) comments to the effect "Gotta get both hands on the wheel here, talk to you later". So operating a radio, in spite of all the contrary remarks, does not have to endanger anyone. Most folks are intelligent enough to put the mike down when necessary. I've never heard of ham (Or CB) radio being a factor in any wrecks I've heard or read about. Cell phones seem to be another matter. Somehow it seems to have been burned into our brains since the telephone was invented that we MUST drop everything to run answer the phone; that it somehow has priority over all other activities. Most people want cell phone use in cars outlawed -- except for THEMSELVES.
I have also seen unfortunate bloody bodies in auto wrecks but they didn't scare me sufficiently to crawl into a hole and pull the lid shut after me so as to protect myself. I have even been run down on my bicycle by an automobile, and while it shook me up and injured me, it didn't cure me from a) wanting others to drive cars and b) wanting to continue to ride bikes, admittedly very dangerous activities. I'd rather die out doing something than sitting in my dirty diaper in front of my TV safely avoiding all risky activity.
If we truly desire to be SAFE, we should leave our CARS at home, not our radios.
 
RE: Ever see a dead motorist?  
by SWL377 on June 28, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I haven't operated HF mobile. Is it really as dangerous as some make it sound? Pilots talk on radios during IFR approaches which demands a lot of concentration.

I was thinking about operating HF mobile, but a car is a deadly weapon if driven by a dangerously distracted driver.

I truly have an open mind and am not taking sides.

What are the FACTS on whether operating a mobile radio significantly increases the chance of an accident? I am sure some human factors experts have studied this somewhere, especially with regards to cellphones.

Does a mic or headset really make a big difference in risk?

73,
AF6IM



 
RE: Food for thought  
by W3LK on June 28, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
<< I am convinced that if any reasonable person had seen a dead motorist up close and in person while on the road, such a person would exclude the notion of entertainment from their driving habits. I have VHF and UHF tranceivers in my car. They remain off when the car is moving on the road, so does the AM/FM receiver and the CD player. I don't expect everyone to do that, but I strongly suggest it. >>

I have worked more than my share of accidents as an auxiliary law enforcement officer and have pulled more than my share of dead bodies out of vehicles.

Good for you leaving everything turned off. I'm so happy I don't have to ride with you - BORING!!! :)

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut
 
RE: Ever see a dead motorist?  
by W3LK on June 28, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
<< I haven't operated HF mobile. Is it really as dangerous as some make it sound? >>

No, it isn't. I am unaware of a single accident cause by a ham working mobile. The same cannot be said for people eating, shaving, reading the paper and other such stuff while they are driving.

Ignore the wet blankets; they are only happy when they try to make someone else miserable. :)

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut
 
RE: Ever see a dead motorist?  
by W3LK on June 28, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
<< Does a mic or headset really make a big difference in risk? >>

Do NOT use a headset mobile! In many states it is illegal, and even if it isn't, it blocks your hearing of sounds outside your vehicle.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut
 
RE: Ever see a dead motorist?  
by K2ID on June 28, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
They make headsets that just cover one ear. If that ia illegal then they would not be passing all these laws requiring motorist to use one for their celluar phones. Heil makes the Traveller headset with one ear piece and I have used it in many states and it is perfectly legal.
 
RE: Ever see a dead motorist?  
by K0BG on June 29, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Distraction caused by cellphones has long-since surpassed drunk driving as the major cause of accidents and deaths on the road. This according to the NHTSA. So, I guess you could assume that distraction from in-motion operation of amateur radio could be distracting, and after 35+ years of operating mobile, I might agree that's true for some folks. After all, there are people who can't walk and chew gum at the same time.

All this said, if you take your time to install your gear correctly, the amount of distraction is far less than any cellphone. Nonetheless, I'm always looking for ways and means to further lessen what ever distraction (and fatigue) there is.

Fully automatic antenna controllers are one way, the modified iMate is another, headsets (where allowed) as also good, and so is Bluetooth. RPF's TalkSafe is one such Bluetooth device, and others will surely follow. My Talksafe arrives tomorrow from AES.

Here's a little tidbit you won't see on the MADD site, and you even have to dig deep to find on the NHTSA site. The majority of the accidents (>68%) attributed to cellphone usage were caused when the user dropped the phone, and reached to get it. What's even more surprising to most (not me), the vast majority of accidents caused by distraction from cellphone were caused by women drivers.


Alan, KBG
www.k0bg.com
 
Rule of Thumb for Mobile Radio Driving  
by KQ6XA on June 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the great article. I like equipment mods that make something do more and apply to more gear than it was originally intended.

Like a few of the other ops who posted comments here, I too, really enjoy mobile CW on HF.

For me, CW can often be less distracting than some voice QSOs. Successful and safe mobile CW operation depends upon how fluent the operator is with copying CW as an audible language. Importantly, the driver/operator must be set up properly with the right gear in place in the mobile for it. Convenient gadgets like the one Alan describes in this article can help.

Traffic is different in various parts of the world. Some areas have a lot of open road. Others have a lot of traffic... radio operation should be done wisely and appropriate for the driving situation.

Mobile 2-way radio in motion has a long history of safety. In fact, it is used every minute of every day by professional drivers and law enforcement.

Cell phone operation is a lot more distracting than mobile 2-way radio. Some cell phone equipment and features, such as hands-free and voice recognition dialing, make it better at providing less distraction. But still, the menu and small displays and buttons on most common cellphones make it distracting to control and set up the phone for a call.

Still, the distraction of a cellphone has a lot to do with the psychology of a duplex telephone conversation, and expectations of attentiveness to the flow of thought process and visualization. With a normal Push-To-Talk radio QSO with another operator who understands mobile operation, and expects there to be interruptions, full attention of the visualization continuity process of the brain is set free, and the operator can be devoted to driving down the road.

I have always admonished my mobile ham friends (and my kids when they were growing up) with radios in their cars:

KQ6XA Rule of Thumb for Mobile Radio Driving:
"Radio is Priority number #10,
Driving is Priority number #1 through #9."

73--- Bonnie VR2/KQ6XA/m
Hong Kong /mobile
 
RE: iMate/IC-7000  
by KE7CDV on June 30, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
You realize that talking to another person in the vehicle or just listening to a radio can be just as distracting as ragchewing, right?

In the ideal world, everyone making a road trip would be well-rested and capable of concentrating on the road -- and only the road -- for many hours at a time. In the real world, people aren't always well rested, and have differing levels of "stimulus" needed to perform at their best... and driving alone may not provide that! Hence, while there's certainly a level at which a driver becames dangerous due to extraneous distraction, for many drivers doing *nothing whatsoever than trying to concentrate on the road* is actually less safe than some degree of additional stimulus such as talking/listening on a radio.

There's a good safety reason that some states purposely put a few twists and turn into otherwise long, straight highways!
 
RE: Misplaced selfconfidence  
by K2WH on July 1, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Reply by W3LK on June 28, 2008 Mail this to a friend!

You put mobiling hams in the same category as drunk drivers? That's the dumbest thing you have posted yet.

I love you people who presume to tell others how they should drive, enjoy amateur radio and all the rest. Keep it in your own household; I don't need you to control my life.

Until last year, when I retired, I drove 30-35 thousand miles a year for 40+ years without a chargeable accident. The one accident I was involved in was cause by someone who ran a red light and hit me. I've had radios of one kind or another, sometimes multiple radios, in my vehicles during that time and never felt the need to pull over to talk. There are times, such as in tight traffic, that I stay off the radio, but on the open road I talk on the radio as I feel like it.

BTW, the last stats I saw put talking on a cell phone or radio as the cause of an accident far down on the list, below such things as shaving, lighting cigarettes, changing CDs, TALKING TO A PASSENGER, Putting on makup, eating ... You get the point? But then again, probably not.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut

Good for you. I agree 100%, I operate 80m-33cm from the car all the time since I am on the road quite often in my work. Since this is about the 7000 which is similar to the 706, this is what I have done that makes it perfectly safe.

The radio body is under the seat. The control head is mounted to the windshield via one of those suction cup things, just to the left of the steering wheel and down slightly. An autotuner in the back of the Jeep and the mic in my hand takes care of everything else. Antenna is my selection of the day, usually with 10 open alot lately, a 102" whip. Works fabulous. My eyes never leaave the road.

K2WH
 
iMate/IC-7000  
by KC2TIR on July 3, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Do as I say not as I do !!!. Lighten up folks, this whole article was intended for tech solutions to make mobile ops somewhat safer. If we continue to point our finger at the others, three of our fingers are pointing back at ourselves. Nice article on the iMate/IC7000. I just received my ticket this past May (Tech) I refuse to let negative aspects diminish the joys of this hobby. 73 Ted KC2TIR.........
 
iMate/IC-7000  
by KA4HRE on July 9, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
The problem with this debate is that there is no threshold, in either direction. Let's assume HF operation is too risky. Ok, how about listening to some music on the radio? Maybe that is distracting - how about banning passengers that might talk? Why not wear a motorcycle helmet while driving? You'd be less likely to suffer brain damage. Is smoking while driving distracting? Or what about not driving at all - you certainly can't kill someone with your car if you are not driving. Let's now assuming 2M VHF is ok because there is little radio work that needs to be done, just squeeze and talk. Ok, what about VHF SSB? What about 6M DX? When does the line get crossed? There is no way for ANYONE to define such a line, because it does not exist. Life is nothing more than a constant risk assessment process: do I eat this chocolate and enjoy it now or not eat it so I can keep my weight down? should I say something to the boss or keep quiet? We constantly assess risk - practically everything we do, or think, is measured by risk/reward. Is doing this worth the risk for the reward? My view on this whole debate - give the guy a break. He's decide to take the risk. There is nothing you can do about his choice. If you choose not to operate HF mobile, that is your right, but don't blame this guy for trying to spread a little knowledge. Pilots with thousands of hours of flying time make stupid mistakes and take risks and end up crashing and dying - does that mean no one should fly? Was he any safer than a pilot that just soloed? Perhaps he had become complacent. Anyone, I hope you get my point. Everyone is different, and everyone assess risk/reward differently. Living life by accepting that reality really lowers one's stress level. Of course, this is just my opinion, I could be wrong.
 
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